Qatar bashing – the great media hypocrisy

by Helmut Scheben*

Someone burns down the houses of his neighbours. But he is not accused of arson, but of discriminating against women and homosexuals. This is exactly how the Qatar case presents itself.

In September and October 2017, Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the former prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, said on the emirate’s state television (not on al-Jazira channel) that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had worked together with the US to bring about regime change in Syria: “Everything went through Turkey, in coordination with the US, the Turks and our Saudi brothers, all were involved through their military.”
  Al Thani did not mince his words. He himself had travelled to Damascus in spring 2011 and offered Assad 15 billion dollars if he distanced himself from Iran. Since Assad refused, the planned intervention in Syria was launched together with the Saudis.1 “Qatar and Saudi Arabia were responsible for financing and arming”, Al Thani explained. The Arab League was content with propaganda. The Syrian media, for example, was cut off from access to Arabsat and other satellites.
  The Qatari ruling family Al Thani alone had spent several billion dollars to finance the rebellion, the sheikh said. Deserters from the Syrian army were rewarded with large sums of money. In an interview with the BBC, Al Thani describes in detail how military operations, supplies and all logistics were coordinated in Jordan and at the Turkish NATO base in Incirlik. The intelligence services of the US, France, the UK, Turkey and Jordan worked together to overthrow the Syrian government.

Crimes under international law

What the world’s second largest gas supplier Qatar could actually have been accused of is a crime under international law: namely, supporting and financing a war of aggression. The fact that this was planned by the West has been confirmed many times, but rarely admitted so succinctly.
  Have you been able to read anything about all this in the papers in the last few months? Not a word. Instead, a busy journalist’s office has been working non-stop to prove that women’s rights and the rights of LGBTQ minorities are being violated in Qatar. The evidence has been there for ten years and has been repeated ever since: The world’s biggest sporting event should not be entrusted to a country as politically incorrect as Qatar. Zeit online writes: “Qatar is considered one of the most controversial host countries in the history of the World Cup. The emirate is accused of human rights violations, poor treatment of foreign workers and a lack of women’s rights.”

You only want to see what you are allowed to see

And the attempt to bring about regime change in a neighbouring country with billions of dollars? Our major Western media did not and do not find fault with this. Imperial strategies of the USA and its allies are routine political business. You only want to see what you are allowed to see without getting into trouble and getting caught up in contradictions. They won’t mess with Washington because of a World Cup in Qatar.
  Uncle Sam was furious that the World Cup was not awarded to the USA, and prosecutor Loretta Lynch left no stone unturned to get at FIFA. FIFA, mind you, but not Qatar. Al-Udeid near Doha is the most important airbase of the Americans and the British in the Middle East, and everything that has been done from there since the Afghanistan war is not something they want to spread about.

“The pack journalism keeps it with the three monkeys”

Not now, not in the Ukraine war and not in the US midterms. The pack journalism keeps it with the three monkeys: hear nothing, see nothing and say nothing. On the other hand, what comes across as politically correct and guarantees applause is disseminated with great market clamour. With accident statistics on the World Cup construction site, you have the parties and the trade unions on your side, and with gender issues and women’s rights, it is also easy to create public excitement. That is the calculation.
  At least with the construction site hype, the shot backfired. Our newspapers fed big headlines with presumed thousands of accidental deaths among migrant workers on World Cup construction sites, with no means of manipulation appearing too questionable. Resourceful investigators had interpolated the numbers of coffins exported from Qatar and other statistics on deaths to arrive at horrendous figures. The Swiss trade union Unia, which investigated the issue in Qatar and visited the World Cup construction sites, found that these were largely unsubstantiated claims. Its representative recently spoke on the SF Tagesschau of “three deaths” during stadium construction, less than the comparable average in Switzerland.
  As far as the war in Yemen is concerned, the picture is the same: Qatar was part of the military alliance that started bombing Yemen in 2015 under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. For our journalists, this is no reason to classify Qatar as an unserious host country. The US and its NATO allies supported this war of aggression in order to ultimately contain Iran and secure the transport of oil through the Bab-al-Mandab Strait.
  When Qatar’s World Cup ambassador calls homosexuality “damage in the mind” in a ZDF interview at the beginning of November, Western Europe’s media see fire in the roof. The 370,000 dead in Yemen and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, on the other hand, do not seem to be an argument of interest where Qatar and the World Cup are concerned.

Reasons for the great silence

The reasons for the great silence about Qatar’s foreign policy are obvious. After all, they were all in the same boat when the Syrian war began: the USA, its NATO allies, the Gulf Emirates, the West with its media, its think tanks and prominent aid agencies and human rights organisations.
  A great lamentation over violations of human rights rose to the heavens. As in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the international community was once again called upon to lead Syria on the path to democracy. And this international community also had a name: It was called Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, David Cameron, François Hollande and their “friends of the Syrian people”.
  This group of friends, under the command of the neocons in Washington, wanted to make regime change in Syria in order to have a corridor free for the march against Iran.
  Assad is shooting at his own people, that was the text module that no news presenter wanted to do without. The question of who the jihadists from far more than 50 nations were actually shooting at, who were tearing up Christian images of the Madonna in Syria, was hardly asked in our newspapers. The head cutters, who had been hailed as “rebels” in Western media, collected petrodollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
  The Qatari station al-Jazira, appreciated in the Arab world for its intrepidity, was turned into a loudspeaker for the “rebels” at the beginning of the Syrian war. Integral journalists, such as the Berlin correspondent Aktham Suliman, threw in the sponge and left the station.2

Concealment of facts is increasingly
becoming a method of opinion manipulation

The whole Qatar human rights hype is hypocrisy on two counts. If human rights and international law were really the criteria by which sporting events were awarded to a host country, then we would have a problem. Because of the 193 governments of this world, the majority is probably of the opinion that neither the USA nor its NATO friends have a clean slate. The wars of aggression led or supported by NATO countries in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria or Yemen, with their millions of dead and refugees, are in the eyes of most people in Africa, Asia and Latin America worse offences than discrimination against women and homosexuals in a country like Qatar.
  But Qatar has participated in these wars, mostly even as a military and logistical hub for the US. The second hypocrisy is that our media is hiding this and pretending today that an LGBTQ issue is the handicap that makes Qatar a “dubious host” of an international sporting event.
  Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter said this week in the “Tages-Anzeiger” as well as in a documentary on Swiss television that ex-UEFA President Michel Platini had called him in 2010 with the information that he had been asked by President Sarkozy at a dinner in the Elysee to see what he could “do for Qatar” in the World Cup award.
  The FIFA Ethics Committee later concluded that FIFA officials had been bribed in the vote. A few weeks after the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, Platini’s son Laurent became head of “Qatar Sports Investments” in Europe, and six months later Qatar bought French fighter jets for $14.6 billion.
  Platini said on French-speaking Swiss television in beautiful candour3 that the Qatari Crown Prince had attended the dinner in question, but that he, Platini, had not been asked directly to do anything for Qatar: “I have known the Qataris for thirty years. I don’t need a president to tell me that I should do something for Qatar.”
  The Emirate of Qatar shares the South Pars gas field under the waters of the Persian Gulf with its neighbour Iran. The field has more recoverable gas reserves than all other fields in the world combined. With the proceeds from the gas export, the Qatar Investment Authority buys into Western companies. In the car industry, in banks, in telecommunications, in transport, in seaports and last but not least in the Paris Saint Germain football club.
  If Qatar won the bid for the World Cup, it was done according to the law that governs football: big money. A sport where players have long been traded like shares is unlikely to enjoy the high ethos of the Olympic idea.  •

1 cf. e.g. Raimbaud, Michel. Les guerres de Syrie, p. 158ff.
2 Aktham Suliman is the author of Krieg und Chaos in Nahost. Eine arabische Sicht. (War and Chaos in the Middle East. An Arab Perspective.) Frankfurt 2017
3 cf. SRF1 documentary from 10 November 2022

Source: of 11 November 2022

(Translation Current Concerns)

Helmut Scheben (*1947 in Koblenz, Germany) studied Romance philology in Mainz, Bonn, Salamanca and Lima. In 1980, he received his doctorate from the University of Bonn. From 1980 to 1985 he worked as a press agency reporter and correspondent for print media in Mexico and Central America. From 1986 he was editor of the Weekly Newspaper (WoZ) in Zurich, and from 1993 to 2012 editor and reporter for Swiss television SRF, including 16 years on the Tagesschau.

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